T-Mobile Austria emerged as the 5G pioneer for the Deutsche Telekom Group in Europe when it took its first 25 5G base stations live in March. The Austrian carrier is now getting its ducks in line for the commercial launch of 5G services with a new brand and the introduction of “5G ready” smartphone plans.
Now known as Magenta Telekom, the carrier is setting itself up as a converged provider of high-speed wireline and wireless services following its merger with cable operator UPC Austria with a future focus on 5G as well as 1 Gb/s wireline services. The Magenta brand has long been associated with Deutsche Telekom, and its adoption by T-Mobile Austria could also signal how the Group might present its 5G, wireline, and hybrid network offerings in future.
It would seem that the T-Mobile brand was no longer deemed fit for purpose in Austria because of the Austrian carrier’s move away from a “mobile only” strategy, perhaps raising the prospect that more rebrandings could take place. Indeed, T-Mobile Netherlands has recently acquired wireline capabilities following its merger with Tele2 Netherlands, although the combined entity seems to be retaining both brands for now.
The new Magenta Telekom has certainly wasted little time in taking the next step in its future 5G strategy. It has launched two new “5G ready” tariffs in combination with unlimited mobile data allowances, providing what it described as an “early taste” of future 5G offers, “when counting data will be history.” The carrier explained that the 5G ready options will enable customers to switch to future 5G tariffs “as soon as 5G technology and a 5G-capable device are available.” It added that it will be possible to use 5G in parts of Austria from 2020.
As things stand, Magenta Telekom has been trialling 5G-based fixed wireless access services in rural areas and has indicated that it intends to focus on LTE and 5G in rural regions, hybrid DSL/LTE in suburban areas, and wireline networks in cities based on technologies such as hybrid fibre coax (HFC) and DOCSIS 3.1.
As stated by its CEO, Andreas Bierwirth, “we want to close the digital divide between urban and rural areas, which is why we have opened our first 5G stations mainly in rural areas. 5G will be the fibre from the air for rural areas to take advantage of the opportunities of digitization everywhere. Our role is also to support the country’s economy with solutions to help digitization bring new opportunities, or to support schools in using e-learning to teach our youth. Magenta stands for these values.”
Magenta Telekom’s rivals have also been accelerating their own 5G rollout plans following the acquisition of spectrum in the country’s auction process. In March, A1 Telekom Austria chose longstanding technology partner Nokia to build its 5G network, and has already announced that Gmünd is the first city where it is rolling out 5G.
Hutchison Drei previously unveiled a 5G partnership with ZTE, while the former T-Mobile Austria and Huawei started a 5G trial in Innsbruck early last year. It’s not yet clear to what extent the two networks will rely on technology from the respective China-based vendors, however. Hutchison Drei has also said it has been testing 5G in Floridsdorf and plans to deploy 5G in some areas during 2019.